Outlander, Season 1, Episode 7: “The Wedding”
The official synopsis, courtesy of Starz:
Claire and Jamie are thrown together in marriage, but as their emotional and physical relationship unfolds, deeper feelings arise. Claire is ultimately torn between two men in two very different times.
The episode that fans were drooling in anticipation over!
But surprise! It doesn’t start where we think it should — we open with Claire and Frank, looking very sharp indeed, sashaying down a London street holding hands. They’re on their way to meet Frank’s parents, but he has a sudden inspiration. They’re right outside the marriage bureau office — hey, let’s get married! Right now! Claire seems a bit stunned, but agrees…
… and as we hear a voice proclaiming “I now pronounce you…”, the scene cuts to a candle-lit church as Jamie and Claire have their first kiss as man and wife.
If you’re like me, upon first viewing of this episode, you were pretty shocked and maybe even felt a little cheated. No ceremony? We don’t get to see the build-up? But no worries, it’s just a very clever approach to the framing of the episode.
Next scene, we’re in the large upstairs room of an inn, while a raucous party takes place below. Claire sits alone in her shift and corset, and then Jamie enters in his shirt and kilt. The fancy wedding attire is gone. Now it’s just the two of them, alone for the first time, with a job to do. As Jamie points out, everyone is downstairs waiting for them to make it “official”.
It’s awkward, to put it mildly. Claire is unhappy. Jamie is nervous (and sweet, and kind of shy). He drinks to “my wife, Claire Fraser” — and Claire starts to guzzle, glass after glass. It’s going to take a LOT of alcohol for her to loosen up.
Claire has questions for Jamie, starting with “Why did you agree to marry me?” Dougal forced her into it, but why did Jamie agree to go along with the scheme? Jamie’s response is classic Jamie: “I didna see I had much choice either.”
Flashback! Cut to a stable, with Jamie, Murtagh, Dougal, and Ned discussing the plan. Ned points out the legality of the matter. The marriage must be consummated right away, with witnesses (in the building, if not in the room) to say that it really happened. Jamie questions whether Claire knows about this part, and Murtagh points out that Dougal has said that he doesn’t support rape. “Not rape. Persuasion.” is Dougal’s reply. Dougal warns Jamie that he’d better not make any deals with Claire to say that it happened when it really didn’t, then goes on to say rather crudely how he himself thinks Claire would be great to, um, consummate with. Jamie takes offense and warns Dougal not to talk about his wife-to-be that way.
Dougal reminds Jamie what’s at stake. Claire took a punch from Black Jack Randall and still kept silent about the clan’s illegal Jacobite activities — but if she actually fell into BJR’s hands for prolonged questioning, there’s little chance she’d be able to withstand the interrogation. Jamie has to marry Claire to keep them all safe.
Back to the wedding chamber, where Jamie’s devotion and gallantry know no bounds:
“You have my name, my clan, my family, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well.”
Claire is moved, and there’s almost a first kiss — until Claire breaks off with only an inch between their lips to ask Jamie to “tell me about your family”. Jamie giggles, and they’re both just so cute and nervous. It’s a marvelous moment, followed by (according to the voice-over) several hours in which they exchange stories and drink, getting to know one another and breaking the tension.
After a rude but funny interruption by Rupert and Angus, who are dismayed to see that they both still have their clothes on, the two are alone again, and the awkwardness returns. Claire declares that it’s late, and they should probably go to bed.
“To bed, or to sleep?” inquires Jamie.
Jamie helps Claire undress, peeling off the layers of overskirt and hip pads, then unlacing (forever, it seems) her corset until she stands before him in just a plain shift. Her turn next — she undoes the buckles of his kilt and it falls to the ground. They kiss, and the passion builds. They fall to the bed, still in their shirts, and have a very quick first go at lovemaking. It’s over in a moment, clearly good for Jamie but not so much for Claire.
Awkwardness threatens to return, until Jamie chuckles and shyly reveals that he did not realize that it was done face to face like that — he thought it must be done from behind, like horses. Claire cracks up, and the ice is broken.
Jamie asks Claire whether she liked it, and she’s silent for a moment. Ah, he says, then Murtagh was right. He’d warned Jamie that women do not generally care for it.
A significant pause… and Claire tells him:
“I did like it, Jamie.”
Oh, the look on Jamie’s face! He looks so young, and so sweet, and so innocent.
Another humorous break of tension, as Claire decides to go get food, and the entire inn full of drunken clansmen cheers as the newlyweds step out of their room wearing just their nightclothes. Jamie sends Claire back inside and goes downstairs in his shirt (and apparently still has his boots on!), to much good-natured ribbing and some slightly less good-natured advice from Dougal, who commands Jamie to keep Claire waiting, as it’s no good to let a woman think she’s in control. Jamie wisely ignores Dougal’s instructions and rushes back to Claire, and the two enjoy some relaxed conversation over a snack.
Claire notices the Fraser tartan of Jamie’s kilt, lying in a heap on the floor, and wonders where he got it. More flashbacks! First, we see Jamie and Murtagh in a stable, where Murtagh has just arrived after traveling to a nearby village to find a Fraser widow who was willing to lend the kilt for a day. Murtagh thinks Jamie is daft to wear it, seeing how there’s a price on his head, but Jamie insists that he’ll get married under his own name and wearing the colors of his own clan. There follows a sweet conversation about Jamie’s mother, and it’s clear that Murtagh was sweet on her.
Jamie tells Claire that he had three conditions before agreeing to marry her, and we then get another series of terrific flashbacks:
FB #1: Jamie informs Dougal that he’ll marry Claire, but they must be “wed properly, in a church, before a priest.” The scene cuts to Dougal and Willy dragging a sick priest out of bed and threatening him at knife-point, finally bribing him into agreeing to perform the ceremony with the promise of new windows for his cold, falling-down church.
FB #2: Jamie wants a ring. The two stooges, Rupert and Angus, find a blacksmith to make a ring out of a key that Jamie has given them. The key to what? Jamie seems not to want to tell Claire right then.
FB #3: Jamie wants Claire to have a real wedding dress. In a rather hilarious scene, Ned visits the local brothel to see if he can find something suitable. Really, Ned? You’re shopping for a wedding dress in a whorehouse? The ladies fawn all over Ned, especially once they see how full his coin-purse is. The madam offers a dress that was left in the brothel by a gentleman as barter, never worn, then sends one of the girls to entertain Ned while she wraps it up for him.
How did Claire spend her day, Jamie wants to know. In response, Claire holds up a bottle. Yup, she drank the day away, and only remembers bits and pieces, other than being extremely hungover.
Finally, we come to the memories of the wedding itself. Claire and Jamie are stunning. Jamie tells Claire that seeing her was “as if I stepped ouside on a cloudy day and suddenly the sun came out.” Swoon.
He introduces himself formally to Claire, finally sharing his real name: James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. As they enter the church, Claire removes Frank’s gold wedding ring from her finger and places it in the bodice of her dress. The ceremony takes place — first the traditional vows, then the Gaelic vows, and then a kiss.
Back in their room once more, Claire tells Jamie to remove his shirt.
“I want to look at you.”
She circles him, admiring his body, and then undresses as well. They make love again, and this time Claire is verra into it. As Claire cries out, Jamie stops, worries that he’s hurt her, and Claire explains that no, that’s not what those noises mean. Jamie is immensely gratified to learn about female orgasm! Especially once Claire explains that it doesn’t always work that way — only if the man is a very good lover. Further intimate explorations ensue. These two are having a marvelous time, and sweet Jamie is very appreciative.
During a break in the action, as Jamie sleeps peacefully, Claire slips downstairs to the now deserted inn in search of more booze, and runs into Dougal. He’s just come back from seeing BJR and informing him of the marriage. BJR was quite pissed, but Dougal is sure he’ll leave them alone now. After all, he wouldn’t dare kidnap the wife of Colum’s nephew from Colum’s own lands. Claire turns to go, but Dougal stops her. He commends her for doing her duty, but suggests that now that that’s done, she can feel free to sample other pleasures. He finds her a most “singular” woman… but propositioning a new bride on her wedding night may not be Dougal’s most shining moment. She declines and heads back upstairs, and Dougal vents his frustration by punching a drunken Rupert for no good reason.
As Claire sits deep in thought, Jamie wakes up and comes to her, placing a long strand of pearls around her neck. They were his mother’s pearls, and now they’re for his wife. The two make love once again, and this time it’s clear that their emotions are involved. It’s tender and passionate, and we see the blossoming love on both of their faces.
The next morning, the two are cheerful as Jamie heads down for breakfast. Claire says she’ll be right there once she dresses and straightens up a bit. But as she shakes out her wedding dress, the gold ring tumbles out and rolls across the floor. Claire retrieves it, and places it back on her finger.
We close with Claire staring at her hands, each bearing a wedding ring from a different man. What has Claire done? What does this mean? How can she be married to both Frank and Jamie?
It’s a startling, profound moment at the close of a powerful, passionate episode.
Yes! This episode is full of steam, passion, sparks, and fireworks. The three interludes of lovemaking show the progression of Claire and Jamie’s relationship, both from the physical and the emotional perspectives.
The first time, it’s sex. It’s Jamie’s first time ever, and it’s artless and fast.
The second time, it’s sexy and erotic, as both truly take pleasure in exploring one another and learning each other’s bodies. There’s a growing tenderness, as they’ve talked, shared secrets and laughter. Claire is more emotionally involved, having now spent a few hours learning more about Jamie and the care he took to make sure she was not just married, but married in a way that was meaningful and respectful and proper.
And the third time, it’s love. Claire is overwhelmed by the meaning behind the gift of the pearls. She’s opened herself emotionally to Jamie as well, and it’s clear now that the feelings are not one-sided. There’s a lovely moment this time around as Claire takes the fallen kilt and wraps it around both of them. It’s reminiscent of the very first episode, as Jamie wrapped his kilt around Claire as they rode on his horse. It symbolizes protection and caring, and by enfolding Jamie this way, Claire is demonstrating her desire to love and protect him, just as he’s done for her.
It’s all about the wedding clothes, really, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning how dapper Claire and Frank looked in the opening scene. I especially loved Claire’s jaunty little hat:
But, really and truly, the fashion in this episode is all about the wedding. Claire and Jamie both look magnificent. A thousand kudos to the design team for their outstanding work here.
Major facts that the episode gets on the table:
- The marriage might have been arranged for legal purposes, but for Jamie, it’s real.
- Claire feels conflicted, but she’s also developing strong feelings for Jamie.
- Dougal lusts after Claire.
- Jamie is quite serious when he vows to protect Claire by any means necessary.
- The chemistry between Jamie and Claire is unexpected, but quite real.
After the first kiss in the wedding chamber:
Claire: “Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
Jamie: “I said I was a virgin. Not a monk.”
Claire’s voice-over, after making love with Jamie:
“There it was. Not only was I a bigamist and an adulteress, but I’d enjoyed it.”
The Gaelic wedding vows:
You are blood of my blood, and bone of my bone.
I give you my body that we two might be one.
I give you my spirit til our life shall be done.
Jamie, on presenting the pearls to Claire:
“They’re very precious to me — as are you, Claire.”
Jamie, Jamie, Jamie. He’s on display in full splendour — not just his good looks, but his kind and protective soul. This episode solidifies all the various impressions that have been shown in bits and pieces so far: Jamie’s gallantry, bravery, devotion to family, honor, and willingness to lay down his life, if needed, for the sake of those he loves.
When Claire tells Jamie “I did like it, Jamie”, it’s a key character moment for Claire, and a turning point for their relationship. If she’d stayed silent, Jamie would have accepted that sex, for Claire, is a duty and would have been unlikely to press for more. They might have moved forward with their marriage as a business arrangement, in which they’ve both sealed the deal, and can now continue with their lives. But by telling him she liked it, Claire in essence is declaring that she’s in this relationship with Jamie, and that she cares, and feels. It’s a breakout, dramatic moment — a small line, but one that makes a huge difference in how they move forward together.
We see so deeply into Jamie and Claire’s souls here, and get new insights into their beliefs, their fears, and what makes them tick. They learn about each other on a whole new level, and make a connection that is rare and special.
Wow. Just wow. Passion, love, loyalty, devotion. Steamy sexytimes. An arranged marriage that may just be a match made in heaven for the two people involved. And yet, danger. Conflict. Confusion.
This episode captures all of the highs and lows, and does it with grace and dignity. The sex isn’t hidden or prettied up — the first time feels like a first time, and it’s a rare thing for a TV show to offer a view of a developing sexual relationship, rather than instant fireworks with no work or effort involved. Jamie and Claire come together with nervousness and hesitation, but over the course of one long night, find a surprisingly strong connection that I don’t believe either expected.
Claire ends the episode in conflict, having almost lost sight of her first husband in the giddy rush of finding love and joy with her new husband. It all comes rushing back to her as she gazes upon the silver and gold of her two wedding rings.
Claire is at a crossroads, with two paths — one to the man in her past (which is the future), and one with the man before her in her present. With this episode, we get a strong, clear picture of what might hold Claire in the 18th century, even if the opportunity to leave becomes available.